EdD Online Student
Educators such as Baylor EdD online student Becki Hale are not always teaching in traditional classrooms. She first discovered her knack for education as a dental hygienist. Hale witnessed 10-year-old children arriving for their first dentist appointment only to find extensive tooth decay that could have easily been prevented if the family had a basic foundation of health education. Repeated situations in which children were suffering due to a lack of health knowledge forced Hale to put the scrubs away and find a way to educate families on a larger scale. She earned a master’s in health education and promotion and continues to develop health education in Fort Worth communities through her current work managing the child health evaluation team at Cook Children’s Medical Center. Now she is expanding her expertise by earning a doctorate through Baylor’s EdD Online in Learning and Organizational Change.
“Once you are a health care provider, the health consciousness of it is ingrained in you,” Hale said. “Health education is overlooked at the individual level and the family level. At the hospital, I work in the department responsible for community health education that allows us to provide education, outreach, and advocacy programs for underserved families or children who are most at risk of preventable diseases.”
Hale’s department focuses on child dental and mental health; child obesity, abuse, and injury prevention; and asthma education. The team organizes programs such as direct home visits to check in on struggling families and training for school nurses and social services personnel. Their community outreach events target areas based on emergency patient zip codes, so opportunities like community group workshops and car seat installation sessions occur where they are most needed.
“When I see the frontline staff get excited about how to better communicate with the families, it is so rewarding because that passion has a ripple effect for our work environment,” Hale said. “They are learning something new and then taking it forward to develop with more families. Even though I am not working directly with the families anymore, I still feel that I influence how we provide education and care for the families.”
Hale is also interested in educating the other side of families’ health care interactions: health care providers. She said the main factor that affects children’s health is their interactions with their health care providers, so she is eager to find a way to influence the education of health providers.
Hale plans to continuously expand health education as she continues her education at Baylor, including the pursuit of research on the barriers between families and access to primary healthcare.
“So much of my work is focused on educating parents about their children's health, so adult education is a big part of our role,” Hale said. “I love how the EdD program married three different valuable aspects that perfectly fit the education I needed for my career. I get to explore curriculum and instruction, research skills, and organizational change and leadership development, and then I get to apply it all to health education.”
— Story and Photo by Cameron Bocanegra